Divorcing Couples Face Privacy Challenges, Especially in the Online Age

Many married couples strive to share everything about their lives and finances. Most divorcing couples do the opposite.

There are plenty of good reasons to stop sharing and keep some information private from a divorcing spouse. Reestablishing privacy is an important step in a separation. In addition, information from the Internet and social media accounts is increasingly used against former spouses in divorce and child custody proceedings to show infidelity, lack of parental fitness or to dispute testimony about one's financial standing.

Take Steps to Protect Privacy

Those considering or going through divorce should take steps to maximize their privacy and minimize personal and economic fallout.

First, set up personal bank accounts and apply for personal credit cards as an individual. Relying on a spouse makes it harder to gain financial independence and establish personal credit. Second, evaluate what you may need individually that you used to have as a family, such as health insurance and cellphone plans. Third, privacy in the home is important. Consider getting a personal safe deposit box for valuables and creating a separate mailing address, especially if divorce plans haven't yet been shared with a spouse.

Electronic and Internet privacy is especially important. Change all online passwords, security questions and authorizations for personal email, social media, banking and store accounts. Be sure to make appropriate changes to any website accounts that contain saved credit card information. If not, a spouse may continue using the other's card or have access to the other's purchase records.

Adjust social media privacy settings to ensure spouses won't be able to access potentially damaging pictures of parties, vacations or new significant others. Generally, do not post anything on the Internet that could have a negative impact on your divorce, especially alimony or child support decisions.

What Can't Be Private

There is no need to get carried away, however. In fact, intentionally hiding assets or debts is illegal and will always backfire.

Protecting one's privacy is an essential step in the divorce process. A divorce attorney can advise on these matters and help chart the course for a smooth divorce process and transition to post-divorce life.